By Amorin Mello

This is an imperfect attempt to research the legacy of Julius Austrian and his wife Hannah Leopold at La Pointe on Madeline Island of Lake Superior.  This page is updated with more research from time to time.

 

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Photograph of Hannah Leopold Austrian from the Madeline Island Museum.

"This represents the home of Julius and Hannah Austrian, after their marriage in the spring of 1848. Premises located at La Pointe, Madeline Island, Lake Superior. Resided there 19 years, happy and contented among Indians, Half-breeds and two Missionaries who represented the inhabitants of the island. Photograph taken summer of 1850." Julius Austrian Papers (Madeline Island Museum)

“This represents the home of Julius and Hannah Austrian, after their marriage in the spring of 1848. Premises located at La Pointe, Madeline Island, Lake Superior. Resided there 19 years, happy and contented among Indians, Half-breeds and two Missionaries who represented the inhabitants of the island. Photograph taken summer of 1850.”
~ Madeline Island Museum

 

 

An Interesting Family History

“The history of this old Jewish family, favorably known as successful merchants in the Lake Superior region and in Chicago, appeared in 1866, in the Portage, Mich., Gazette, and was copied in the American Israelite under date of April 13th, 1866. We believe that the history of this popular and highly respected family will be read with interest by their many relatives and friends, and we therefore publish it here. They were brave, honest and upright business men, and the story of their pioneer life in a sparsely settled region, of their struggles, hardships and ultimate success will serve as an encouraging example for many a young beginner.”

[…]

“The Messrs. Leopold are natives of the little town of Richen, in the Great Duchy of Baden, Germany, and there received the elementary education which fitted them to become the shrewd and successful merchants they have proven to be. They first began business life as clerks in an ordinary country store, as it may not be inaptly termed, as Richen was but a small place, having a less population than either Hancock or Houghton, here on Portage Lake.”

 

Memoirs of Doodooshaboo: Joseph Austrian in Bavaria 1833-1847

Joseph Austrian
a.k.a. Doodooshaboo

“I was born September 15, 1833, in a small village called Wittelshofen (Mittel Franken, Bavaria), located at the foot of the Hesselberg, a mountain 1800 ft. high, and at the junction of two little rivers Wörnitz and Sulzach near Dinkelsbuehl, where the judiciary district court is located.”

[…]

“My father’s name was Abraham Isaac Oestreicher (Austrian), he was born in Wittelshofen and died there Sept 17, 1852 of apoplexy at the age of 75 yrs. He was an only son and his father gave him what educational advantages could then be obtained and principally in ‘Hebrew’ which gained for him the name title of ‘Reb’ and he was known by the Jewish village people as ‘Reb Frohen’. He had a large library of Hebrew books, they were of unusual size and some nearly a hundred years old.”

[…]

“My next brother Julius, was sent to Feuchtwangen to learn the tanning trade and afterwards travelled afoot for a couple of years or more working in a number of other cities at his trade, as it was there customary to perfect themselves in the trade, and later going clear to Paris, France, before returning home, a short time afterwards he emigrated to America to join our brother-in-law Lewis F. Leopold, who had located in business at Mackinaw, with branches in Wisconsin.”

 

Baash-ki-taa-go-zi, the Firecracker

“We again recur to Mackinac, and in 1845 find at this point members of the Leopold and Austrian families which afterwards became prominent as owners of Lake Michigan vessels and merchants in the ports of the Great Lakes.  Lewis F. Leopold, his wife, who was a Miss Babette Austrian, and their son of less than a year old, together with his sister Hannah and his brother Samuel, were located at the island in the year mentioned. Samuel F. Leopold soon after his arrival at Mackinac purchased a one-mast sloop, the “Agate,” with which he gathered up the product of the different fishing points, becoming the first pioneer at this locality in the fishery business, which since that time has grown to such a great industry. The brothers sent down to Cleveland a thousand barrels of salted fish each season, no insignificant industry for those days. This venture, together with the sale of supplies to fishermen, Indian trading, and the purchase of furs, laid the foundations for an extensive business. Samuel F. Leopold left Mackinac in 1853, joining his brothers, Henry and Aaron, and Julius Austrian, who had married Miss Hannah Leopold in 1849, in their recently undertaken business ventures at La Pointe and Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, where they were among the first white settlers.”

[…]

Edward Kanter a.k.a.
Baash-ki-taa-go-zi

“In 1846, as has been stated, he worked for the Leopolds and Austrians. The following year he had been placed in charge of a stock of goods at the island by some eastern parties who suddenly decamped without notice to their creditors. When the latter arrived, they were so impressed by the honesty and zeal wherewith young Kanter had guarded their interests that they voluntarily turned the entire stock and store over to him on easy terms of payment, and so in July, 1847, he opened his books with a cash capital of $200. On these prospects he married a month later the daughter of former State Senator Lyman Granger of the neighboring Bois Blanc Island. He remained at Mackinac until 1852. In that year the late Mr. E. S. Heineman, father of the writer, recently arrived at Detroit, was sent to Mackinac to be present at the Indian payment. Mr. Kanter and he immediately became warm friends. The Indians had given Mr. Kanter, because of his bustling activity, the name of ‘Bosh-bish-gay-bish-gon-sen,’ meaning ‘Fire Cracker,’ and Mr. Heineman being somewhat shorter in stature than Mr. Kanter, but of equal activity, was immediately dubbed ‘Little Firecracker.'”

 

Memoirs of Doodooshaboo: Joseph Austrian’s migration to Manhattan 1848-1850

“In accordance with the suggestions of my brother Julius and brother-in-law Lewis F. Leopold, who had gone to America some four years before, it was finally decided that I with my sister Ida should emigrate to America. Mr. L. F. Leopold had a fishing and trading business at Mackinaw, my brother Julius was located at La Pointe on Madelaine Island, one of the Apostle group of islands in Lake Superior, northern Wisconsin, where he was engaged in the fur trading and had a general store, and traded with the Indians and half breeds buying fur from them.”

 

Memoirs of Doodooshaboo: Joseph Austrian’s migration to Mackinac 1850-1851

“On my arrival there I received a most hearty welcome from my sister Babette and brother-in-law Louis F. Leopold, who had worried considerably over my having missed the last boat of the season and therefore having been obliged to remain all winter in Detroit. Mr. L. F. Leopold was the oldest of four brothers Aaron, Henry & Samuel, they together with Mr. Julius Austrian had a dry goods store on the Island, and in addition to this were engaged in the fish business, furnishing nets, salt & barrels to the fishermen, who caught and packed the fish, the same being later on collected from the different fishing grounds by a small schooner sent out for that purpose. Alternately the three younger brothers were sent in charge of these expeditions. L. F. Leopold was naturally a bright man, but egotistical, and very visionary and with most unpractical business ideas, still he had complete influence and control over his brothers who implicitly obeyed his commands, often contrary to their own and better judgement.”

 

Memoirs of Doodooshaboo: Joseph Austrian at La Pointe 1851-52 (Part 1)

“Mr. Julius Austrian was stationed at La Pointe, Madaline Island, one of the Apostle Group in Lake Superior, where he conducted an Indian Trading post, buying large quantities of fur and trading in fish on the premises previously occupied by the American Fur Co. whose stores, boats etc. the firm bought.  Julius Austrian, one of the partners had had charge of the store at La Point for five years past, he was at this time expected at Mackinaw and it had been arranged that I should accompany him back to La Pointe when he returned there, on the first boat of the season leaving the Sault Ste. Marie.  I was to work in the store and to assist generally in all I was capable of at the wages of $10 a month.  I gladly accepted the proposition being anxious for steady employment.  Shortly after, brother Julius, his wife (a sister of H. Leopold) and I started on the side wheel steamer Columbia for Sault Ste. Marie, generally called ‘The Soo,’ and waited there five days until the Napoleon, a small propellor on which we intended going to La Point, was ready to sail.”

 

Memoirs of Doodooshaboo: Joseph Austrian at La Pointe 1851-52 (Part 2)

“During the first summer of my stay at La Point, the Indian Agent, Mr. Watrous was directed by the Secretary of the Indian Dept. at Washington to summon the chiefs of that part of the Chippewa tribe residing in the vicinity of Bad River, Bayfield, & Red River for a council.  The Agent accordingly sent runners around to the chiefs of the different lodges some of which were quite remote, summoning them to meet him on a certain day at La Point.  They came in obedience to the summons many bringing their squaws, papooses and their Indians of their lodges with them.  Near the lake shore the put up their wigwams, which were made of birch bark leaving an opening over hung with a blanket which served as a doorway.  It made an interesting Indian settlement.  The meeting was held on the appointed day, in my brother’s store which was a long wooden structure.”

[…]

“Scherzer arrived at La Pointe at midnight coming from Ontonagan 90 miles in a small row boat.  To his dismay, he found that there was not a hotel in the place.  The boatman told him that he thought that one Austrian might give him shelter for the night, so he came to the house and knocked at the door.  Henry Schmitz, my fellow employee, who roomed with me opened the door and called out “Joe step auf freund von below sind da,” whereupon I cordially invited them to enter and made them as comfortable as possible.  They remained with us about three days and profoundly appreciated our hospitality.  Even making mention of it later on in his book.”

 

Reisen in Nordamerika: From Ontonagon to the mouth of the Bois-brule (Part 2)

Austrian travel writer
Karl Ritter von Scherzer

“It was 1 o’clock in the morning, and the whole settlement was in a deep sleep. We were at a loss as to which door to knock at. Among 200 Indians, only a few white families live there. One of the boatmen gave us a name, with which we found Mr. Austrian (a name meaning Oestreicher) a descendent of the Mosaic.  We knocked confidently by rattling at the window showing the distinguishing hemp of Austrian. We have always had a favorable bias for our Jewish countrymen in this nation. They have brought over so many ancient patriarchal customs of antiquity unadulterated, faithful, and pure in their sympathetic breasts. Here the noble manners of hospitality sweep away the cold breath of selfishness found among the Americans. The Jews are always ready to welcome strangers and donate a warm and magnanimous hand with every occasion.

[…]

“17 September, early, 61° Fahr. The actual owner of the home was absent. However, his younger brother received us with all the warmth of a Bayreuth Jew. He had only been in the country a short time, and spoke English with a Spanish-sounding accent as he called to us in the room, ‘Waken sie!’ He showed us a pair of Indian snowshoes, and asked, ‘Haben sie snow shoes noch nie geused?’ He finally told of the fish trade in the same mixed gibberish, ‘Below werden die Fische umgepakt, inspected, und dann weider vereignepakt again.'”

 

Biographical Sketch of Vincent Roy, Jr.

Chippewa interpreter
Vincent Roy, Jr.

“Vincent Roy was born August 29, 1825, the third child of a family of eleven children.  His father Vincent Roy Sen. was a halfblood Chippewa, so or nearly so was his mother, Elisabeth Pacombe.  His grandfather was a french-canadian who located as a trader for the American Fur Company first at Cass Lake Minn, and removed in 1810 to the bank of Rainy River at its junction with Little Fork, which is now in Itasca Co. Minn.  At this place Vincent saw at first the light of the world and there his youth passed by.  He had reached his twentieth year, when his grandfather died, who had been to him and all the children an unmistakable good fortune.”

[…]

“Leopold and Austrian (Jews) doing a general merchandize and fur-trading business at LaPointe were not slow in recognizing ‘their man.’  Having given employment to Peter Roy, who by this time quit going to school, they also, within the first year of his arrival at this place, employed Vincent to serve as handy-man for all kind of things, but especially, to be near when indians from the woods were coming to trade, which was no infrequent occurrence.  After serving in that capacity about two years, and having married, he managed (from 1848 to 1852) a trading post for the same Leopold and Austrian; at first a season at Fond du Lac, Minn., then at Vermillion Lake, and finally again at Fond du Lac.”

 

1852 Arson of Austrian’s Store at Fond du Lac

[To be published at a later date.]

 

Memoirs of Doodooshaboo: Joseph Austrian after La Pointe 1852-54

“Started Work at Eagle River. 1852.  I was at once installed in my work after my arrival, and the next day went to the Cliff Mine to attend to some collections.  Mr. H. F. Leopold was an uneducated man not able to read or write English, the business correspondence and keeping of accounts therefore devolved entirely on me.  After becoming thoroughly acquainted with the business I resolved to enlarge the same and my efforts to do so succeeded well.  A short time after my arrival at Eagle River a letter was received by the Leopolds containing the sad news of the death of my father.  He died suddenly Sept 17th, 1852 from a stroke of apoplexy at the age of 75 years.  This was naturally a cause of great grief and worry to me, as there was besides my mother, my blind brother Marx, a younger sister and brother at home to be cared for.”

[…]

“Things went on satisfactorily in the business and in the summer of 1853 brother Julius, who was stationed at La Point started with his wife, a sister of the Leopolds, for Germany in accordance with a conclusion we had come to, to bring mother and the rest of the family to this country, and at the same time to visit the native village of his wife – “Rḯchen,” in the Grand Dukedom of Baden.  It was a mission combined with a great deal of hardship and trouble for Julius, as it meant for him to convert all the real & personal property of my late father’s estate into money, which was in itself very difficult besides getting the family ready for this long voyage for their destination in the new world after having lived all their lifetime in Wittelshofen. Brother Marx especially was disinclined to go on account of his affliction from loss of eyesight. My mother not having any special ties there to keep her, was in a measure glad to go where the most of her children were living, and did everything in her power to get ready without unnecessary delay. They had a safe voyage and arrived at Cleveland Sept 1853.”

 

Julius Austrian Papers: James Hughes Affair

“Notice to the Public

“Whereas James Hughes of Hudson in the County of St Croix and State of Wisconsin, on the first day of December AD 1853, did execute to Charles H Oakes, Michael E Ames and Isaac Van Etten, under a pretended power of attorney from Julius Austrian and without any authority from him, or either of the under signed, two several deeds, one of which deeds had described therein, the following described lands, lying in the County of La Pointe and State of Wisconsin, to wit:”

1852 Public Land System Survey of La Pointe, Madeline Island.

 

Julius Austrian Papers: La Pointe Lands

“Know all men by these presents that I Joseph Austrian of Eagle River, county of Houghton and State of Michigan have made, authorized, nominated and appointed and by these presents do make authorize nominate and appoint Julius Austrian of La Pointe, county of La Pointe, and State of Wisconsin, my attorney for me and in my name and to my use, to enter into, and take possession of all such messuages, lands tenements, hereditaments, and real estate whatsoever, in La Pointe, County of La Pointe, State of Wisconsin, whereof I now am, or hereafter may be by any ways or means howsoever entitled or interested in, either in severalty and jointly or in common with any other person or persons.”

 

Wheeler Papers: 1854 La Pointe before the Treaty

“Mr. Beaulieu said that the sale of last spring has been confirmed, and that Austrian will hold Lapointe.  So farewell to all the inhabitants’ claims then, and to anything being done for the prosperity of the peace for the present, unless it gets out of his hands.  I have written to Austrian to try to get something for our property if we can.  But I fear there is not much hope.  If he goes back to Lapointe in the spring, do the best you can to make him give us something.  I feel sorry for the inhabitants there that they are left at his mercy.  He may treat them fairly, but it is hardly to be expected.”

[…]

“I suppose Austrian will hold the property and probably we shall never realize anything for our improvements. You must do the best you can. Make your appeal to his honor, if he has any. It will avail nothing to reproach him with his dishonesty.  I do not know what more I can do to save anything, or for any others whose property is in like circumstances with ours.”

 

Asaph Whittlesey Incidents: Number I

Wisconsin State Representative
Asaph Whittlesey

“We had already made the acquaintance of Mr. and Mrs. Julius Austrian, having had the pleasure of their company up the Lakes, and had made many inquiries of them as to the place of our destination. From this time forward we found Mr. and Mrs. Austrian to be most agreeable neighbors and associates, and these young ‘brides’ spent much of their time together, and not unfrequently did the evening air carry to listening crowds our notes of ‘Good old Colony times,’ and ‘There’s no place like home,’ still fresh in our memory.”

[…]

“As I have before stated, the general appearance of the island was most attractive. The garden of Mr. Austrian was laid out most tastily. We found there a large variety of fruit trees, apples, plums, cherries, etc. Also large quantities of currants and strawberries; but the crowning attraction was the ‘grape bower,’ affording a most attractive lounging place. Here also a merry party, consisting, so far as my recollection serves me, of the following persons: Mr. and Mrs. Julius Austrian, Rev. John Chebohm, (who, I remember, asked the blessing at the table,) Marks Austrian, Mr. H. Mandelbaum, Henry Smit, Mr. and Mrs. Hocksteiner, Mr. and Mrs. George Starks, old Mr. and Mrs. Perinier, Mr. and Mrs. Asaph Whittlesey, and I think Mrs. William Herbert, and a Mr. Roy, celebrated the ‘FORTH OF JULY,’ 1854.”

 

Early Life among the Indians: Chapter II

[To be published at a later date.]

 

1854 Treaty of La Pointe

[To be published at a later date.]

 

Objections to Mail Route 13780

“Dear Sir: In addition to this petition, we would respectfully call your attention to a brief history of the base intrigues of Julius Austrian, the Jew, who now holds the contract for carrying the mail on route 13780.  Heretofore there have been but few whites, that is, Yankees living upon the Island, most of the residents being halfbreeds, French and Indians.  These people never have much interest in mail matters and consequently care very little whether Mr. Austrian carries the mail regularly or not.  Indeed they cannot read a letter if they should receive one and therefore have no interest in such things.  Now whenever Mr. Austrian wishes to effect an alteration in mail matters, he goes to these illiterate Frenchmen, gets them to sign something they hardly know what, but he gets their names and these, with his unprincipled misrepresentations, are the instruments and means by which he accomplished his selfish ends.”

 

Blackbird’s Speech at the 1855 Payment

In August 1855 about three thousand Chippewa Indians gathered at the village of Lapointe, on Lapointe Island, Lake Superior, for an Indian Payment and also to hold a council with the commissioner of Indian affairs, who at that time was George W. Manypenny of Ohio. The Indians selected for their orator a chief named Blackbird, and the choice was a good one, as Blackbird held his own well in a long discussion with the commissioner.”

[…]

“The following is the substance of my notes taken at the Indian council at La Pointe a copy of which you requested.  Council held in front of Mr. Austrian’s store house Aug 30. 1855.”

[…]

“We want the 90,000 dollars to be paid as we direct.  We know that it is just and right that it should be so.  We want to have the money paid in our own hands, and we will see that our just debts are paid.  We want the 90,000 to feed our poor women, and after paying our just debts we want the remainder to buy what we want.  This is the will of all present.  The chiefs, & young men & old men & the women & children.”

 

1855 Yom Kippur at La Pointe

“In 1855 a number of Jewish Indian traders met on an island in Lake Superior in the frontier village of La Pointe, Wisconsin.  The Indians were assembled there to collect their annuities and the Jews were present to dun their debtors before they dispersed.  There were enough Jews for a minyan and a service was held.  That was the beginning and the end of La Pointe Jewry.”

 

Bayfield’s Beginnings

“Major McABOY arrived here about the first of March [1856] and made his headquarters with Julius AUSTRIAN of LaPointe. Julius AUSTRIAN in those days being the Governor General of all that part of the country west of Ontonagon to Superior; Ashland and Duluth being too small to count.  The major spent probably two weeks at LaPointe going back and forth to Bayfield with a team of large bay horses owned by Julius AUSTRIAN, being the only team of horses in the country.”

 

Penokee Survey Incidents: Number III

“The Bay, as well as the Lake, was full of ice. In fact, we had been compelled to fight out way from the Sault to La Pointe, through heavy masses of ice, nearly the whole distance – and while upon this subject, I will say, that incredible as the statement may appear to many, yes it is a fact, that ice bergs were aground in front of Austrian’s Warehouse, at La Pointe, on the 4th day of July, 1857, in 36 feet of water, while at the same time a field of floating ice was visible from the Range, beyond which, no water could be seen. I verily believe that the lake was not wholly free from ice that summer.”

Union Army General
Lysander Cutler
a.k.a. Grey Devil

[…]

“I refer now to Hall, of St. Paul, Minnesota, who undertook, with the assistance of S.R. Marston, a treacherous employee of the Company, and Schuyler Goff, of Racine, at that time a resident of La Pointe, to beat us out of our rights, by entering the lands upon the Range with Sioux Scrip, in which nefarious attempt they would no doubt have succeeded, but for him. He was more than a match for all of them, and they finally retired from the contest in disgrace. Such was Gen. L.L. Cutler, a firm friend, but an uncompromising enemy. Never will the writer forget the happy days spent with him upon the Range in the summer of 1857. We were like brothers, and our friendship was never interrupted by even a passing cloud. We fraternized at once upon our first meeting, and fought the battle for the possession of the Range together, never doubting our ultimately winning the prize.”

 

1858 Superior Land Office and the Penokee Mountains

[To be published at a later date.]

 

Barber Papers: Winter of 1858

[To be published at a later date.]

 

Barber Papers: Spring of 1858

[To be published at a later date.]

 

Barber Papers: Summer of 1858

[To be published at a later date.]

 

Barber Papers: Fall of 1858

[To be published at a later date.]

 

1859 La Pointe Iron Company in the Penokee Mountains

[To be published at a later date.]

 

To Be Continued…

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